To say that the Vancouver Canucks players struggled to get up for every single game in the 2011-12 regular season would be accurate. The magnitude of a Tuesday night game against Minnesota simply doesn’t compare to a Stanley Cup Final contest (sorry, Wild fans), and the Canucks seemed to meander through the regular season (for the most part).
There were several notable exceptions. Early January in Boston was a huge game for the team, as was a date with the Red Wings in late February.
Detroit had reeled off 23 straight wins at home, setting a league record in the process. At the time, they were two points clear of the Canucks in the NHL overall points standings. The league’s best home team (Detroit) was facing the league’s best road team (Vancouver).
"We’ve been hoping they would still be undefeated by the time we got there. Talking to the guys, even two to three weeks ago, I was hoping that they would hold on until we got there at least so we can get a chance. That’s what’s fun about playing the game — challenges like that. I think as a group, we’re excited about it and we’re going to step up to the plate."
The Canucks were trailing by a goal late in the third period when Daniel Sedin blasted a slap shot past Jimmy Howard to send the game to OT. In the extra frame, the clubs battled through five minutes without a goal, and the game went to a shootout. I am not a huge fan of the shootout, but in this particular case, it was entertaining, and the perfect finale to 65 minutes of beautiful hockey between two skilled clubs.
Here is the complete shootout (to watch the final goal, skip ahead to the 2:50 mark):
Today’s post focuses on the last shooter – Alex Burrows. With the game on his stick, would Burrows go with his signature leg kick backhand move? Or would he try and surprise Jimmy Howard with something else? Let’s find out.
Burrows is plotting his move as he carries the puck over the blueline.
Burrows brings the puck in towards Howard, and fakes the wrist shot. He gets his head and shoulders involved in the fake, and does a great job of cradling the puck on his stick. Does Howard bite?
A different angle – Howard is very compact and looks prepared to stop the wrist shot that Burrows is trying to get him to bite on.
From this angle, Howard appears to be in a good position to stop any shot from Burrows. Burrows does do his backhand deke, but he left the leg kick at home this time. Howard’s glove is low, and Burrows has some room upstairs.
Burrows has to get the puck up quickly.
And he does. A brilliant back hand to the top shelf seals the victory for the Canucks. It wasn’t a turning point in the season, but it was a moment that definitely stands out from the rest.
Burrows pulls out a celebration he hasn’t used in years – the "slump/streak buster."
“It was awesome. That team over there, they really invite you to play good hockey. There’s no cheap shots, nothing like that. You play good hockey, go up and down the ice, there’s scoring chances, hits – everything I think you want in hockey. And the atmosphere tonight, with everything that was on the line, it was fun.”